In a letter to fellow countrymen on the eve of the 69th Republic Day, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday appealed to the people to take a pledge to protect and defend the Constitution of India “whenever it is endangered” as “one people”. He said the “treasured commitments” of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution needed to be defended “more than ever before in the history of our young nation”. The letter is as much an appeal to the people to defend the Constitution as a critique of Narendra Modi government’s alleged failures on protecting constitutional rights, including freedom of expression and atrocities on Dalits.
The Congress President also stressed that “we are citizens of a democratic republic” and its strength was the diversity of religions, cultures, ideas and opinions.Gandhi said the constitutional right of justice should remain sacrosanct and India’s law should protect the underprivileged, the voiceless and the poorest of the poor. He said people should have liberty to express themselves without fear of verbal or physical intimidation and violence. He said the Constitution gives the citizens the right to equality of opportunity, regardless of economic status, caste, religion or gender. “Where each citizen is treated equally not just in the letter of the law but in our actions and in the way we treat each other,” Gandhi said. Gandhi said “fraternity between each Indian as equal individuals” should prevail. “No matter our background, we are proud to share a common bond: our belonging to this beautiful nation,” he said.